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RYLA during the Pandemic



A RYLA is an initiative that started in 1959 in Ausralia and by 1971 Rotary International organization adopted it as the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). An award that is given to the young leaders in our community to sharpen their skills, introduce them to volunteering & involving them in it. So, this weekend (14th - 16th of May 2020) Rotary club of Alexandria Agora organized the first online RYLA in Egypt under the theme of “A leader is not a boss” Each day is divided into 3 different sessions per day tackling important topics around leadership, crisis management, and keys to success. RYLA aims to show how Rotary respects youth who do good to their communities, in a lovely gathering that coaches youth to become leaders. RYLA targets youth between 14 & 30 years old to build their leadership skills, communication skills, time management, problem solving, emotional intelligence, and to learn more around Rotary & its activities. This was the introduction given by our District Governor Dr. Sherif Waly & Past President Sameh Hamido from Rotary Club Alexandria Agora to kick start the bootcamp.


The first session was an ice-break session by Past President Dr. Hossam Farahat to define who is a leader & what is the leadership concept. So, from this session we have understood that leaders are only available when we have a team in the first place. Leadership is to motivate or inspire the team to get the best out of the team members. Driving the team to do the right things for a win-win situation reaching the goals successfully. Leadership is all about being visionary seeing the future before it actually happens and be prepared for it through strategic thinking.


Another concept that we have learned is the difference between "compliance" which makes a team member and "commitment" which makes a team leader. Compliance is to live by the rules, like working from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. However, commitment is to have a vision that drives you so you might work for extra hours to reach your goals. So, this leads us to know that a good leader leads leaders! And that leadership is a process with steps that should be done over time. And the main characteristic is to be influential & inspire your team through orchestrating the team members to work efficiently.

The second session was around crisis communication by Incoming President Dr. Nour El Zeny. And she started the session by John Kennedy's quote which means that in crises you need to be aware of danger & you need to recognize the opportunities as well. Leaders in crises are always challenged by "D-VUCA-D" which leads them to learn new skills such as: adaption, agility, and resilience.


D-VUCA-D is:

  1. Disruption: change in the norm like Uber not owning any cars or AIRBNB not owning any rooms.

  2. Volatility - Uncertainty - Complexity - Ambiguity: makes the decision making process very hard as answers are not ready-available.

  3. Diversity: we are all different cross cultures and in different generations.


As well, Nour has advices us all to adapt to the new normal as Confucius once said. A leader can't run away from her/his responsibilities however a leader needs to standup & deal with the new norm. As leaders we need to understand two main things:

  1. The communication levels: which ranges from intra-personal communication to mass communication.

  2. Who are out stakeholders: which ranges from internal stakeholders to the organization to external stakeholders to the organization.


And we have also learned from this session that we need to be resilient in the middle of crises. And that we need to work on different pillars such as:

  1. Physical health through endurance & flexibility.

  2. Emotional health through developing a positive outlook & regulate yourself.

  3. Mental health through working on your attention span & your ability to focus.

  4. Spiritual health through committing to your values & tolerating others.

And before communicating anything to your stakeholders you need to define their needs first & make your communication simple, clear, and frequent while being transparent. A good example of this simple, clear, frequent, and transparent messaging is "6 - 20 - 100" during COVID-19 which means that you need to be 6 feet apart as a social distancing, you need 20 seconds to wash your hands, and if your temperature reached 100 Fahrenheit consult a doctor.


After understanding the needs of your stakeholders, you need to assign a spokesperson to your organization & ask him to focus on facts without mixing her/his opinion with it. Everyone in the organization needs to become a role model & involve your stakeholders in the decision making process when possible. Always stay motivated to show gratitude & help others to build a community & communicate your messages with less humor showing the best practices taking place in the organization. At the end of this process, you need to depend on the feedback system inviting the full team for creative thinking sessions.


And this concludes our first session, see you tomorrow with the learnings from the second session.

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